Name: Dinah Denmark
County of Residence: Allegheny
Preferred Pronouns: I don’t use them generally
How do you describe your identity? Lesbian. Jewish. Buddhist.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? It was 1981, I was 18 years old. My college roommate and I fell in love. Fortunately, I had relatively supportive (Jewish, New York cosmopolitan)parents. It could have been a lot harder than it was. My first girlfriend/college roommate had a much tougher time, coming from a small town, Christian home.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m so OUT I’m IN.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? Carlie Steen – We worked on college paper together, became friends. She was out and was the first peer that I came out to.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. (College Age) Alison Bechdel in the Broadway musical “Fun Home.” I could totally relate to that very first time of being with a woman. A life changing experience.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? My lovely wife (Alice Greene) tells me everything I need to know : )
Describe your geographical community. I grew up in SW Ohio, very Christian, very conservative. I have lived (all over) Pittsburgh for 31 years. I have seen a lot of positive changes over the years. Granted, change has been slow, albeit steady in SW PA.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. It is wonderful to see how our local LGBTQ community is growing. I honestly am not involved with the community as I was in the 1990s when it was not an easy time to be out and advocating for change locally. I feel like I did a lot of good work in that regard in the 90s.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I have always been an outspoken force to reckoned with, so no ever messed with me : )
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I am unable to answer this question.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? To ensure that LGBTQ Pennsylvanians are not discriminated against in the workplace.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I remember attending “Stonewall 25” in New York (1994) and I had the opportunity to meet and personally thank LGBTQ pioneers who were out and fighting the good fight long before I was. These men and women are my heroes. It was because of their courage that I was able to come out relatively early in my life.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? I can’t answer this question.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Ditto, can’t answer
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? There’s no room for fear – just keep moving forward.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? For the community to keep growing and contributing.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Be vocal and supportive
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Come out, be vocal
What motivated you to take part in this project? Sue Kerr asked me to do so. Hi Sue!
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I think you covered it well.
Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
AMPLIFY LGBTQ is a new occasional series of blog posts designed to give a “signal boost” to the voices of our LGBTQ neighbors throughout Western Pennsylvania. We are using a Q&A format and will minimize editing their responses. The questions, however, may change as we ask each participant to tell us what we’ve missed asking. It is one of the vibrant elements of a blog format – evolution & growth.
Our intent is to highlight the voices of marginalized members of our community who are not always invited to the table or whose voices are not heard (because “we” are not listening?) Obviously, my choice of questions does shape the conversation, but beyond that – these are glimpses in to the lived experiences of LGBTQ people in Western Pennsylvania as told in their own voices. If you would like to participate, please email me pghlesbian at gmail or visit the online Q&A.